Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Catching up! and Looking back!

Whew!  Sorry to have been absent for most of the last few weeks but with the holidays, what can I say other than Buon Natale! and Buon Anno!  As I look back over the past year, I am pretty amazed (and, yes, proud) that I was able to get the editing, beta reviews, and release done for Murder at Cold Creek College. Sales are fairly steady and I'm pleased with the responses and reviews after only 2 months.  I have to admit I really enjoyed creating Sheridan, Kim, Brett and all, though as the story unfolded, they seemed to take over.  My sense is that the same will happen with Murder at Cold Creek Arboretum.  With the first few chapters and about 25,000 words, drafted, Sheridan continues as the reluctant sleuth.  Now that Kim isn't a suspect, she is a more than willing 'side kick', still full of energy.  

On the reading side, I am still very much enjoying my kindle and reading a range of cozy mystery and romance.  It has been fun to interact, at least 'virtually' with other writers and readers.  I have to admit I am not quite sure what "New Age" or "Contemporary Romance" actually are, but maybe I will figure out as I read some of them.  My "to be read" list is pretty steep on the kindle and I have a stack of the "real" books besides.  Unfortunately, I also have a number of them yet to write reviews on. 

So other than the usual eat better, exercise more, and lose weight, what are my New Year's resolutions or goals?

  • Increase marketing for Murder at Cold Creek College
  • Finish Murder at Cold Creek Arboretum so it can be released in 2014
  • Make a dent in the "to be read" pile and the "to be reviewed" pile
  • Continue to participate in blog tours, maybe even schedule one
Speaking of Blog Tours, be sure to stop by for these already scheduled stops:
  • 1/12/14        Playing with Fire by J.J. Cook
  • 1/14/14        Passage of Crime (The Ernie Bisquets Mystery Series) including Guest Post by R. Michael Phillips
  • 2/6/14          Spider Catchers by Marilynn Larew
And do have a happy and healthy New Year 2014!!!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Book Review: Louisiana Longshot : A Miss Fortune Mystery (#1) by Jana DeLeon

Synopsis: It was a hell of a longshot... CIA Assassin Fortune Redding is about to undertake her most difficult mission ever--in Sinful, Louisiana.  With a leak at the CIA and a price on her head by one of the world's largest arms dealers, Fortune has to go off grid, but she never expected to be this far out of her element. Posing as a former beauty queen turned librarian in a small, bayou town seems worse than death to Fortune, but she's determined to fly below the radar until her boss finds the leak and puts the arms dealer out of play.

Unfortunately, she hasn't even unpacked a suitcase before her newly-inherited dog digs up a human bone in her backyard. Thrust into the middle of a bayou murder mystery, Fortune teams up with a couple of seemingly-sweet old ladies whose looks completely belie their hold on the little town. To top things off, the handsome local deputy is asking her too many questions. If she's not careful, this investigation may blow her cover and get her killed.

Armed with her considerable skills and a group of old ladies referred to by locals as The Geritol Mafia, Fortune has no choice but to solve the murder before it's too late.

Review:  Although it is hard to imagine Fortune as a CIA assassin, it is obvious that she doesn't quite fit in the Louisiana Bayou when she goes after what she thinks is a frog, but is really an alligator.  She definitely doesn't fit the image of Sandy Sue, beauty queen librarian.  Even the innocent looking, hard as nails, old ladies, Gerta and Ida Belle can figure that out.  More importantly, Fortune can't just wait for Deputy LeBlanc to solve who the bone belongs to and who did the murder.  Of course, only just arrived in Sinful, she doesn't know anyone or the history, including Sandy Sue's aunt whose house she is supposed to be packing up. This is a fun read with some twists  that leave you guessing.  I'm looking forward to Lethal Bayou Beauty and Swamp Sniper.

Purchase at Amazon

Product Details
File Size: 2784 KB
Print Length: 250 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 147813223X
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Jana DeLeon (December 17, 2013)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English

Book Review: Claus of Death: A Myrtle Crumb Mystery by Gayle Trent

Synopsis: Myrtle Crumb, the sassy, sixty-something sleuth from BETWEEN A CLUTCH AND A HARD PLACE and WHEN GOOD BRAS GO BAD, is suspicious when the mall Santa is found dead "on the throne"--the Santa Land throne, that is. The police are saying it was suicide, but Myrtle knows no self-respecting Santa Claus would let himself die in front of the children! She goes undercover to investigate the suicide and uncovers more than she bargained for! 

Review:  At times it is hard to remember that Myrtle is sixty-something, and it is no wonder that her daughter is worried when she gets a job as Mrs. Claus to the new Santa.  Her excuse is to support her granddaughter whose gotten a job wrapping presents.  But Myrtle starts to ask questions and plays her part well. This is a fun, fast paced novella. Myrtle is likable, caring, and includes not only a touch of the holiday season, but portrays older adults as multi-dimensional, even with a bit of romance.   I have the other two on my kindle and now know what to read when I want something on the shorter side.

To purchase from Amazon  

Of note, Gayle Trent is also the author of the Daphne Martin Cake Mysteries - I may have to check them out!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Blog Tour: Sketcher in the Rye - Sharon Pape


In her new job as a private eye, former police sketch artist Rory McCain has a spirited partner: Old West marshal Zeke Drummond. He may be a ghost, but when these two combine their skills, they reap justice…

Trouble has sprouted at Harper Farms. Top secret info has been leaked to the competition, and now there’s serious sabotage cropping up. So the farm’s beleaguered owner, Gil Harper, has called on Rory to dig up some dirt. But what Rory discovers raises a new field of questions…

Someone shucked Harper’s accountant and left his body in the farm’s corn maze. While Gil is quick to hire Rory to solve now not one but two crimes, the sketching sleuth isn’t so sure why the farmer wants her to focus her attention on his own family.

Regardless, Rory and Zeke will need to put their hands to the plow and solve this case before someone else is planted six feet under…

Not quite so simple as solving a murder, but also how the murder relates to, if it does, with the sabotage of the company.  Did Matthew get too close to identifying the person trying to break Gil's business? Which of his children resented Matthew and their father enough?  And then there's the whole issue of Zeke not particularly thrilled with pediatrician Aaron romancing Rory... and Eloise's visions, family history, and let's not forget Hobo's infatuation with a pig!  Rory's previous skills as a sketch artist come in to play as well.  There are multiple twists and turns, likeable and unique characters, and Pape keeps you guessing until the end on all counts - murder, sabotage, and what's really bugging Zeke.  This is the fourth in the Portrait of Crime Series and will be released December 17th!!!  There's no need to read the prior three - it can stand alone - but you might want to start with the first one in the series, Sketch me if You Can!

From Sharon’s Webpage:
I started writing stories as soon as I learned how to put letters together to form words. From that day forward, writing has been a part of my life whether it was my first attempt at a novel in seventh grade or the little plays I wrote for my friends to perform for neighbors and family. After college, when I was busy teaching French and Spanish to high school students, I was also writing poetry — some of it in French.

After several years, I left teaching to be a full time mom, and when my two children started school, I went back to writing. To my delight I found that the muse was still there, still waiting patiently for me to come around. My first novel, Ghostfire, was published at that time. It went on to be condensed in Redbook magazine (the first paperback original the magazine had ever condensed.) Then came The God Children and The Portal. Redbook also published my first short story, which was subsequently sold to several foreign magazines. With two great kids, a golden retriever and a loving, supportive husband (whom I’d met at the beach when I was fourteen — but that’s a story for another day), I felt like I was exactly where I was meant to be in my life. But fate had another plan for me, and it went by the name of “breast cancer.”

Looking back, I realize how fortunate I was that the cancer was discovered at such an early stage, but at the time it was all very overwhelming. Once I was back on my feet, I wanted to help other women who were newly diagnosed, worried and afraid. I became a Reach to Recovery volunteer for the American Cancer Society and went on to run the program for Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. A number of years later, with the help of my surgical oncologist and two other volunteers, I started Lean On Me, a nonprofit organization that provides peer support and information to breast cancer patients. When Lean On Me celebrated its tenth anniversary it no longer required as much of my time, and I once again found myself free to pursue my first love — writing.

Find out more about Sharon and her books here: http://www.sharonpape.com/index.html

Purchase Link at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sketcher-Rye-InterMix-Portrait-Mystery-ebook/dp/B00AVA4NH0/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1384291943&sr=1-1&keywords=sketcher+in+the+rye

Puchase Link B&N: http://www.amazon.com/Sketcher-Rye-InterMix-Portrait-Mystery-ebook/dp/B00AVA4NH0/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1384291943&sr=1-1&keywords=sketcher+in+the+rye

Monday, December 9, 2013

Busy, Busy, Busy...

As you can likely relate, with Thanksgiving coming so late, it seems like the holidays are coming a break neck speed.  For those academics like Sheriden and her friends at Cold Creek College, this is also the crunch time for exams and papers, and holiday parties galore.  It gets to be hard to find time to read or write...  

At least one reviewer asked about a sequel... and yes, there will be a sequel - Murder at Cold Creek Arboretum.  Although I haven't had a lot of time to write in the past week or so, the first three chapters are drafted.  Here is an excerpt from Chapter 2:

“I sure did.  I have no clue why he didn’t just say it was murder to begin with.  Justin Blake was shot in the head, up close and personal.  When I let him know that I was a bit perturbed, he tried to explain it by saying that Justin had also been beat up, so it wasn’t really clear if he died from the beating or the bullet wound.”  Brett sighed again and shook his head.

I waited a few minutes, but my curiosity got the better of me, and I asked, “Has he made an arrest yet, then?”

Brett stood up and made faces like he was ready to explode.  His response dripped with sarcasm as he stated, “Well, you know, it usually is the person who finds the body, you know…”

I jumped up and yelled, “What?”

Brett snickered and said, “Yup, Officer Matthews couldn’t get Johnson to say much when he drove him to his car yesterday, but noticed Johnson seemed a bit tense and kept looking at him ‘sideways’.  The Chief was waiting on some information on Johnson before arresting him.  It seems that Clive Johnson was arrested for assault about 10 years go.  Somehow he got off with probation.  The Chief is trying to get more information.”

“But that’s ridiculous.  Just because he happened to find the body?  What about Nick?  Is he an accomplice then?” I shouted.

Brett just sighed, shook his head, and finished his beer.  “How about we eat whatever you brought home and then I’ll tell you about the rest of my day?”

Hopefully that peaked your interest a least a little...  In the meantime, the review schedule for the next couple of weeks includes:
 Sketcher in the Rye (A Portrait in Crime Series) by Sharon Pape (blog tour on 12/15/13)
 Claus of Death: A Myrtle Crumb Mystery by Gayle Trent 
 Neighbors and More: High rise Series by Mona Risk

In the meantime, if you are looking for holiday themed stories, check out Janet Rudolph's blog:
http://mysteryreadersinc.blogspot.com/2013/12/christmas-crime-fiction-d.html  -- it is pretty impressive list even with just authors A-D!


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Review: Christie Craig's The Cop Who Stole Christmas (Tall, Hot, and Texan)


The Cop Who Stole Christmas (Tall, Hot, and Texan) by Christie Craig was only released on November 22, 2013.  Not your typical “home for the holidays” Christmas story, there is definitely something between Mark, the homicide detective, and Savannah, the florist, even before they meet.  They’ve scoped each other out for some time before Savannah finally runs across the street to see if her cop neighbor can intervene and keep “Santa” from towing her car.  Unfortunately, Santa’s paperwork is all in order and Mark can’t help much.  He also explains to Savannah that he is homicide so to let him know if she finds a body.  Little does he dream that she’ll be back screaming when she finds her ex-husband dead in her kitchen.  Mark has lots of rules, a meddlesome mother, and Savannah is causing havoc with his nice, quiet, boring life. Savannah, on the other hand, is having trouble believing that any of her friends could possibly have killed her ex and isn't too sure about starting a relationship with Mark.  Cute, and funny, along with a steamy romance.

Now, back to my very high TBR pile...  

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Blog Tour Spotlight: Tis the Season to be Tempted by Aimee Carson

Synopsis: After the worst year ever, free-spirited Evie Lee rings in the New Year alone, swearing off men forever. So when her brother’s childhood friend, the perfect man with the perfect life, winds up on the same plane home, she’s determined to ignore him. Wes is determined not to take her seriously. Unfortunately a snowstorm traps them at the airport with no way to finish their commute, and his perfect body is tempting her to break her vow—if only for one hot night!
CEO Wes Campbell is famous for always doing the right thing, and running into Evie again is torture. He’s determined to continue his hands-off attitude. But he wasn’t counting on the little hellion’s infectious smile, her killer body, or the vulnerability in her eyes. For the first time in his life, Wes is tempted to do the wrong thing…

This short read (about 70 pages) is a story of two people who meet up by chance on a flight home after not seeing each other for many years.  They were attracted as adolescents and that attraction is still there, but both have reservations...

Author:  The summer she turned eleven Aimee left the children’s section of the library, entered an aisle full of Harlequin Mills and Boon, and pulled out a book.  That story sparked a love affair that has followed her from her life in Florida to Alaska, Seattle, and finally South Dakota.
Armed with a fantastic job working part-time as a physician in the Alaskan Bush (imagine a combo of Northern Exposure and E.R., minus the beautiful mountains and George Clooney), she enjoys being home in the gorgeous Black Hills, riding her dirt bike with her three wonderful kids and beyond-patient husband.  But every morning she gets to play God and flirt vicariously through her characters, who all just happen to reside in one of her favorite vacation destinations . . . South Beach, Miami. Her motto? Life is too short to do anything less than what you absolutely love.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Updates on Murder at Cold Creek College

In the past 2 weeks, first, a great review (5-star) was posted, and I want to share an excerpt from that : 

"The pace of the story is excellent throughout; the writing crisp and clear. Small College life in a small town setting is a very good one for this cosy mystery....There is a large cast of characters in the story and all are well defined-good points and less good. Sheridan is a strong and feisty female, yet not overtly so. Her strength is quiet, her nature one that it’s easy to empathise with – she would be the person in real life that you would turn to for a shoulder to cry on, or someone who would lend an ear while you vented some frustration on some topic or other. Her colleagues are nicely rounded and are a good mix of the sensible and more colourful..."

On the 19th, Murder at Cold Creek College was featured on KBoards Discovery Day!  And a 4-star review was posted!  (and hopefully more will be coming!)

Murder at Cold Creek College was spotlighted on 11/22/13 on Book Highlights with Tina Marie  with review forthcoming...

All in all, a few more things to add to the list of things to be thankful for as we head into Thanksgiving!  And I will be hosting Tis the Season to be Tempted (Entangled Indulgence), a romance by Aimee Carson on Thanksgiving Day -- just a quick change from cozy mysteries.  Next blog tour after that will be Sketcher in the Rye (A Portrait in Crime Mystery) by Sharon Pape on 12/15...  In the meantime, I am reading and reading and reading...  so stay tuned...  

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Blog Tour: Bart J Gilbertson's Deathbed and Breakfast

Richard Forester, a retired CEO for a major software company, and his granddaughter Penny show up at the Pookotz Bed & Breakfast one evening and find themselves in some rather unpleasant company. All the guests somehow seem to be connected to Richard’s past and when he is found dead the next morning, everyone is suspect. However, there are a few wrinkles that the inn’s owners Edna and Mildred Pookotz need to iron out as the investigation unfolds. Not only was Richard deathly ill, but he was also accused of embezzling $750,000 which is still unaccounted for. The local Sheriff suspects that this victim’s death is not a natural one, so he–and the sisters–set forth to discover who the murderer is.


It is only by chance, and the recommendation of the sheriff, that Penny and Richard end up at the Pookotz Bed & Breakfast. They are on their way for a potential cure or to at least ease Richard's suffering.  The Bed & Breakfast is booked and the various guests have their own stories from the newlyweds to the insurance salesman to the photographer to the father and son. A full house and all the guests have some investment in finding the money that Richard is accused of embezzling.  When Richard is found dead, the Pookotz sisters do their best to deal with a full house of suspects.  Although only one person killed Richard, they share the guilt. Gilbertson artfully weaves a combination of clues to the final conclusion.  The Pookotz sisters, Felix, and the Sheriff all have unique personalities and I look forward to seeing more of them in the future.

About This Author

Bart J. Gilbertson is the author of the Pookotz Sisters Mystery Series. Although he was born in Wisconsin, he spent most of his youth and later years in the rocky mountain state of Idaho. He has been all over the northwest and it is his love for the lush green state of Oregon that inspired the setting for Pleasant Lake and its inhabitants. He attended ITT Technical Institute in Boise, ID and received an Associate in Applied Science Degree for Computer Networking Systems and graduated with honors. Bart has worn many hats over his lifetime career, but the one he is most proud of is that of being a writer. He currently resides in O’Neill, NE. He has two children.


Christa: Hi Bart! Glad to have a chance to ask you a few questions...to begin, how did you go from running computer networking to writing mysteries? 

Bart: Well, truth be known, I have always been writing stories.  However, my background is a technical one.  I spent about 2 years working for Intel, Fab 7 in Rio Rancho, NM back in the early 90’s.  I then spent another couple of years with a pharmaceutical company called TheraTech running one of their packaging machines.  After that, I spent approximately 7 years with another semi-conductor fabrication company called Zilog.  When Zilog closed its doors, I went to school for a couple of years at ITT Technical Institute and got my Associates in Computer Networking Systems, graduating with honors.  But the one constant in all that time was my story writing.  So, I wouldn’t say I went from running computer networks to writing mysteries.  The jobs I’ve had over the years, along with my degree, were my “day job”.  Writing is my true vocation.

Christa: When did you first start writing fiction?

Bart: I started writing at a very young age.  Even before I knew I wanted to be a writer, in fact.  I remember my Mom sharing with me a short story I had written when I was about 7 or 8 years old.  It was about a man who worked at a museum, and late at night, everything inside came to life.  (I know – this sounds like the Ben Stiller movie, “Night at the Museum”, but this story was written YEARS before that even came out).  There was this one part, where a menacing gorilla came to life and went up to the man, growling, howling, and beating his fists on the floor.  The man was afraid.  The gorilla stopped and looked at the man and said, “Why didn’t you come to visit me last night?”  Haha!  Yes, creative writing was in full effect in that story.

Christa: I’m also a fan of Terry Brooks and Piers Anthony (from your Goodreads bio).  How did they influence you? 

Bart: Up until that point, all the books I’d read were Young Adult books.  Reading Terry Brooks and Piers Anthony was my first foray into the adult world, so to speak.  “The Sword of Shannara” by Terry Brooks was well over 700 pages long.  I’d never tackled a book that size before, but I was determined to read it based on two things: my friend’s recommendation, and the front cover.  (Yes, front covers DO sell).  It was the first real, epic fantasy I’d ever read and it had a big impact on me.  So much so, that I began to write a fantasy of my own, “The Diadems of Wanoka”.  I actually still have plans for a fantasy series roughly based on this early idea.  With Piers Anthony, it was a little different.  He incorporates a lot of humor into his novels, and I loved that aspect of his writing.  Can you imagine waking up only to discover you have been sleeping on top of carnivorous grass?  Imagine trying to stand up!  Piers Anthony has a wonderful, imaginative mind.

Christa: Is there a sleuth that just got you hooked on mysteries?

Bart: To be fair, there were two.  Frank and Joe Hardy, the Hardy Boys.  I absolutely adored those books growing up.  I always had a Hardy Boys mystery with me wherever I went.  They certainly had a huge influence on me with ideas of my own mysteries.  Back in those days, when I was a kid, we didn’t have video games or the internet.  We lived 3 miles outside of a small town in the rural areas, so we didn’t have cable television either.  My Dad had fastened a large antenna at the top of a post he’d set up by the house, and we got 4 channels; ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS on a black and white TV…that was it.  Books were my best friend.  I read a lot of the Hardy Boys, and I also wrote a lot of stories.

Christa: Your bio indicates that it was your love of Oregon that inspired the setting for Deathbed and Breakfast.  What (or who) inspired the Pookotz sisters?

Bart: Believe it or not, nobody did.  They were just an idea that came from the minds of my sister, Billie, and I late one night.  We sat around coming up with our own ideas for a possible cozy mystery series, and they were born.  The name “Pookotz” was our Grandmother’s (on our father’s side of the family) maiden name.  We knew we wanted the two sisters to be opposites, yet complement each other.  Edna is the stern one, the organizer, the “heavy”.  Mildred, on the other hand, is the warmhearted and caring one.  Together, they give the reader a great balance and some humorous situations.

Christa: How would you complete this sentence:  Readers who like ________  will love Deathbed & Breakfast and the Pookotz Sisters?

Bart: “Readers who like the television show, ‘Murder, She Wrote’, will love ‘Deathbed & Breakfast’ and the Pookotz Sisters.”

Christa: Since this is the first in the Pookotz Sister Mysteries, when can readers expect the next one?  

Bart: Well, now that Edna and Mildred have solved their first mystery, they will find in the next book that they have a knack for it.  They will become even more involved than they were in the first book.  Felix will be up to his usual shenanigans (I’ve always loved that word….”shenanigans”).  And you will get to meet some more of the locals too.

Christa: Care to give the readers any hints or a brief synopsis?

Bart: Hmmmm….well, I will say that it will take place against the background of an annual town festival and class reunion.  There will be more fun waiting for fans of the Pookotz Sisters!

Christa: As we close the interview, what message or additional information do you want to share?

Bart: I just want to thank the many of you who’ve supported me these last few months.  I’ve met and made new friends along the way, and have received continued support from others who’ve been with me from the very start of my new journey.  I value and appreciate all of you!  Thank you again.

Christa: I certainly enjoyed Deathbed and Breakfast and learning more about you!  Thank you!

Deathbed and Breakfast is available at Amazon

Follow Bart J Gilbertson on Facebook and Goodreads

Monday, November 18, 2013

Granny Hooks A Crook Blog Tour! Review and Giveaway!

Granny leads a secret life in the small, unique community of Fuschia, Minnesota. It’s not just her all junk food diet, multiplying pets, or her shocking bedtime attire that makes Granny one in a million. No, Granny is an undercover cop, charged by “the Big Guy” (the town’s police chief) of preventing theft in local stores. Granny takes her job seriously and daily foils many shoplifters using her trusty spiked umbrella and amazing acting skills. When some startlingly brazen burglaries begin to occur that Granny can’t solve, along with mysteriously appearing bad guys, disappearing clerks, and misplaced Corvettes, Granny begins to wonder if she isn’t ready for the wrinkle farm. Maybe, it’s fortuitous when she accidentally-on-purpose falls in the lap of an attractive older gentleman who is soon roped into her wild adventures, as they try to figure out what’s happening in their little town.


Julie Seedorf has a great imagination.  The characters, from their names to their personality and physical characteristics, are very unique and quirky, including their names.  In fact, as I read this, I visualized a cartoon or caricatured version obviously with lots of fuchsia detail.  Granny is not the stereotyped grandmother although at times she is convinced she might be ready for the wrinkle farm.  She’s also having some difficulty with remembering where she left her bright red 1957 Corvette and her cat bringing home another friend every day.  It’s not immediately apparent why or how someone is emulating her, but it is quite clear that somehow her house is where objects missing from each of several burglaries show up, included a small forest in her back yard.  Her adult children appear to be clueless except for her son.  Her comrade, The Big Guy, is suspicious and only the distinguished man with strong arms seems determined to help her, whether she likes it or not.  If you like cute and fun reads, you'll like Granny Hooks a Crook.

About the Author:
Julie Seedorf owns her own computer repair business, but her secret undercover job is writing. Her column “Something About Nothing” for a Minnesota newspaper is about nothing, which is what we talk about most of the time, always with something underneath the conversation. Julie has been a wife, mother, grandmother, housewife, barmaid, salesperson, activity director, full time volunteer and more. Her motto is, “If you dream it, you can do it.” Her Fuchsia Minnesota, published by Cozy Cat Press is her first journey in her undercover career. Having lived in small communities in Minnesota all her life, she knows the richness and uniqueness that only a small town can bring and with a little humor and imagination, she transforms those experiences into her imaginary Fuchsia community.  Keep up with Julie:

Goodreads Author Page

Post a comment with your email for a chance to win an e-copy or paperback (Winner’s Choice) Paperback  - U.S. Mailing Addresses only!  The winner will be selected at the end of the tour!!!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Review: Topaz Eyes by Nancy Jardine

Review: Topaz Eyes

Topaz Eyes is a romantic suspense at its best.  Motivated by the find of an exquisite ring, a jeweler in Heidelberg does research and comes to believe this is one of twenty pieces of the Tiru collection that somehow came into his family generations before.  Jensen then commissions a family history, contacts distant family members and a woman who was close enough to one of the women in the family to potentially be a recipient of some of the pieces.  The quest set forth at the mysterious meeting in Heidelberg, with Zaan, Teun, and Keira taking the lead roles to complete the quest, is to find all the pieces and exhibit them.  The search covers multiple cities in the US, Amsterdam, Edinburg, and of course Heidelberg.  The stakes are high and as Keira and Teun both become aware they are being followed separately, as well as when they are together, and trust is not high between the cousins.  Multiple homes across the continents are broken in to, businesses are burglarized, and individuals are assaulted.  It’s not obvious who is behind the mischief.  The pieces come together slowly as none of the cousins wants to share all they know.  Jardine spins an intricate plot with cultural overtones and all that makes discovering family history a little risky.

Coming up in the next week:
November 18th: Review of Granny Hooks a Crook

November 19th:    Murder at Cold Creek College featured on Kindle Board Discovery Day!!!!

November 20th: Review of Deathbed & Breakfast and Interview of Bart J. Gilbertson

Monday, November 11, 2013

Honoring our Veterans

Today is Veteran's Day and an opportunity to once again honor the men and women who have given their lives and fought for our freedom, and those who still fight to protect that freedom.  As noted by so many, "freedom is not free".  For whatever reason, this year there seems to be more outpouring locally in terms of restaurants honoring (and feeding) veterans and active military, as well as additional recognition at sports events and other venues including various cozy mystery blogs (including http://www.cozy-mystery.com/blog/ and http://jeannequigley.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/veterans-day/ among others).  

My father was served in the Army Air Corps and was a POW in World War II.  He strongly believed in the US and serving in the military.  As a POW, he didn't have an easy time and carried the scars (inside and out) for the rest of his life, but when he talked about his service he always had positive things to say about the men he served with.  Many years later, he got in touch with many of these same men.  

Today, we have men and women choosing to serve across the globe, some opting to re-enlist and return to Afghanistan or Iraq or some other location.  Where ever they serve, whichever branch, whatever their MOS, we all need to remember thank each of them - not only today but every day.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Blog Tour: Knowing Vera by Rachelle Ayala

Today it is a pleasure to be part of the blog tour for Knowing Vera by Rachelle Ayala!  See more at: http://b00kr3vi3wtours.blogspot.in/2013/10/KnowingVeraSchedule.html#sthash.ScSvv2kf.dpuf

About Rachelle Ayala

Rachelle Ayala was a software engineer until she discovered storytelling works better in fiction than real code. She enjoys writing love stories and has always lived in a multi-cultural environment. The tapestry of characters in her books reflect that diversity. She is an active member of online critique group, Critique Circle, and a volunteer for the World Literary Cafe. Check out her four romantic novels. Michal’s Window is a powerful, emotional journey as lived through the eyes of Princess Michal, King David’s first wife. Broken Build is a story of healing where a man learns to love and trust the woman who destroyed his life. Hidden Under Her Heart is a heartfelt love story combined with controversy over difficult decisions, and Knowing Vera is a suspenseful, cross-cultural romance mixing an unsolved murder, adventure, and hot, steamy love scenes. 

See more at: http://b00kr3vi3wtours.blogspot.in/2013/10/KnowingVeraSchedule.html#sthash.ScSvv2kf.dpuf

Visit Rachelle at: Website: http://rachelleayala.me Blog: http://www.rachelleayala.com or follow @AyalaRachelle on Twitter.

Knowing Vera (Chance for Love #3) -Synopsis

Some secrets are best untold. Vera Custodio has never fallen in love, though she has strong feelings for her friend and sometimes lover, Zach Spencer. Long-forgotten memories resurface when Vera discovers Zach’s mother was the woman her father supposedly murdered many years ago. After losing his leg, former triathlete Zach Spencer reevaluates his life—and realizes he’s falling in love with Vera. When she ends their relationship, Zach is determined to prove his love and follows her to Australia in search of the killer. Caught between a web of family secrets and a deranged adversary, Vera and Zach must depend on each other for survival. Love blossoms, but the truth explodes everything Vera knows about herself. Will she close her heart forever or risk it all for a shot at happily-ever-after? 

Vera Custodio has spent most of her life avoiding getting close to anyone.  She is haunted by memories from when she was 7 of seeing a woman murdered and her father taking her from the scene.  He tells her to forget what she saw and never to tell anyone, and then he jumps off the Golden Gate bridge. Years later, she becomes friends with Zach Spencer, not remembering him as the little boy she played with or making any connection to the woman it is believed her father murdered.  Then Zach is injured and his family comes to visit him in the hospital and Vera makes the connection; she is also sure Zach's father makes the connection. But what about Zach? Does he know?  What about the strange emails she's getting from the dead woman and then from her father?  How are Cliff and her Uncle involved?  Just how tangled is the web of secrets and deceit?  The story has multiple twists and turns, embedded in cultures, exposing the insensitivity of others toward individuals with prosthetics, and depicting the impact of loss of limb on even the strongest of individuals.  

This is the third in the series.  It might be helpful to read to the first two in order to know the back story, but it can stand alone.  On the other hand, once you read Knowing Vera, you know how the first two end.  Although categorized as "Family Drama", as noted in the synopsis, Knowing Vera includes steamy and somewhat explicit scenes.  

I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review.  

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Cozy Mystery Review: The Strange Situation at Emlee by MaryJo Dawson

Review of : The Strange Situation at Emlee (MaryJo Dawson)

This is the third of the Sally Nimitz mysteries.  After Sally’s previous experiences with solving mysteries, her friend Emma asks Sally to visit the family homestead of Emlee after a burglary and a poisoned cat upset Emma’s mother, Emmaline.  Sally convinces another friend, Anne to come along as an old college friend of Emmaline’s.  As with so many families, there are any number of family secrets that could explain the burglary and missing papers; not so many to explain a poisoned cat.  Then the illegitimate son of the patriarch Bradshaw is murdered and family secrets become oh so important.  As in the previous Sally Nimitz stories, Sally’s inquisitive mind and ability to get people to share their thoughts and feelings help to solve the mystery behind the burglary and the murder.  Dawson’s handling of sensitive subjects along with well developed characters and plot make for a good read.  After reading this third one in the series, I've added the first two to my TBR stack.


Be sure to check back on November 7th for the blog tour stop of Rachelle Ayala's Knowing Vera!

In the meantime, just a quick update on happenings in Cold Creek.  I'm working hard at marketing Murder at Cold Creek College and will share reviews as they come in.  In the meantime, I've started, slowly but surely, on the second in the series... as of yesterday 20,000 words...  I can safely say that chapters 1-3 are solid!  I'm hoping for a spring release, but life (and reading) have a habit of getting in the way.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Cozy Mystery Review: Crime Wave by Rose Pressey

Review of Crime Wave by Rose Pressey

Maggie becomes a PI when she inherits her uncle's faltering Miami Beach P.I. agency.  She doesn’t really know much but completed the coursework and is ready to go with her "office manager"/assistant, Dorothy.  With all Maggie's studying and the internet to help her, she starts to think being a PI isn’t so bad.  About then she stumbles on a dead body and then another washes ashore.  Maggie just continues to stumble into trouble and into the line of a bullet, all with Dorothy  as her sidekick waiting in the car knitting and shaking her head.  Of course, there is also the hunky cop, Jake, and hints of attraction mixed with Jake’s continued suggestions that she stick to following cheating husbands and the like.  Cute story, likeable characters, quick read.  Looking forward to the release of Murder is a Beach in December (available on Amazon for pre-order).

I am making every effort to post a review on each book I read, not only here, but on Goodreads and Amazon.  It is very important to authors for reviews to be posted!  Help an author - Post a Review!

Coming soon a review of  Strange Situation at Emlee by MaryJo Dawson.  Also, as part of blog tours, look for reviews of Knowing Vera by Rachelle Ayalla and Deathbed and Breakfast by Bart J. Gilbertson.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Making Progress on All Fronts

It's been a busy week.  Marketing a book is a new experience and it is hard to figure out how to best go about it.  I have posted to get reviews in multiple venues since that is really the best advertising for any book.  I was able to find some time for writing this week, and have the first 20,000 words of Cold Creek #2 drafted and a plot map developed.  Given the importance of reviews, I am making a concerted effort to catch up on reviews of books I have read...  Also have signed up to be part of a blog tour on a romantic suspense, Knowing Vera by Rachelle Ayalla on November 7th.  Then another blog tour for a mystery, Deathbed and Breakfast by Bart J. Gilbertson on November 20th.

For this week, I finished my first holiday themed book:  Sherlock’s Home: The Adventure of the Contentious Crone (Finn Sherlock) by Pamela Rose. 

The story is about twins, Finn and Echo Sherlock, who own the Sherlock’s Home Mystery Bookstore & the 221b Bakery. They live above the two stores with their Uncle Oz. Beginning with Halloween and ending with Christmas, Finn, along with Echo and Uncle Oz cover the holidays in baked goods and theme-named drinks.  Halloween brings a little extra though in the form of Odds Bodkins, dead in a secret passage behind the fireplace in the bookstore. No one knew the passage existed or how Odds Bodkins managed to get in there without being seen. Finn and Echo work hard to find out who killed the so-unliked Odds Bodkins much to the annoyance of Sheriff Wavy Davey. The characters are quite quirky and the names, even for the two hairless kittens, are creative and descriptive at once.  This was a fun read with a lot of twists and turns, conflicting motivations, and romance on multiple levels.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Divorced Divas and Dusty Deals

In between writing this week, I managed to get a few books read...

Cozy Mystery Review: Tonya Kappes' Strung Out to Die

Tonya Kappes’ Strung Out to Die (A Divorced Diva Mystery) is centered around Holly Harper (and her pet pig Willow).  Holly owns the Beaded Dragonfly, a bead shop in a small town.  Unfortunately, her cheating ex-husband Sean also lives in Shawnee and is just waiting for the business to fail.  When Doug Sloan is found murdered in the back room of the shop, it isn’t looking too good for Holly.  But not only is Holly a suspect, but so is Sean.  Holly decides it isn’t in her best interest to just hope that the police figure out who the murderer is, and, along with the other divorced divas, she plays detective.  It is well-written and there are several twists to the story line.  I didn’t read the Prequel, “Bead of Doubt”, but may pick it up to get a better feel for Holly. This is only one of the series written by Tonya Kappes, so be sure to check them all out! 

Cozy Mystery Review: Rae Davies' Cut Loose (Dusty Deals #2)

Cut Loose (Dusty Deals#2) is about ‘antique’ store owner Lucy Matthews trying to make a go of it in Helena.  Things should be looking up – she’s dating a detective (Peter) and it’s rodeo time.  She even has a booth at the rodeo and great hopes that this will ensure that she can pay the bills.  The problem is that the Detective’s trophy ex-wife and her Australian shepherd are also getting ready for the rodeo and seem to be spending a lot of time with Peter.  In an effort to avoid running into the two of them, Lucy ducks into the nearest trailer and stumbles on the body of the dead rodeo queen.  Add to that some other evidence, and Lucy is first in the line of suspects, especially since she is too embarrassed to explain why she was in the trailer. She clearly needs an attorney but doesn’t have the money to handle that and other expenses.  In the meantime, she agrees to let her untrained dog Kishka be entered into the contest to please Peter’s son.  Davies and Devoti have multiple conflicts and complexities and spin the story to a somewhat unexpected ending.

Coming up: November 7th: Blog Book Tour Stop for Rachelle Ayella's Knowing Vera (Chance for Love #3) - a touch of romance between the mysteries...

Sunday, October 13, 2013


The proof arrived and Murder at Cold Creek College is published! It is available on Amazon (Kindle version and paperback) and through Smashwords if you prefer a different eBook format!  You can also get the paperback direct through Createspace Here's an excerpt of the first chapter...
From Chapter 1
              “Oh, have you heard what happened at the rec center? I don’t think we ever had a murder on campus before!” Terra exclaimed. Hearing that, I abandoned my computer and joined them in the hall.  I am nothing if not curious.
“Murder? I thought there was an accident?” I asked.  I wondered if Terra exaggerated the situation a bit.
“Nope! Joe just called me from the paper, and he’s on his way over to get some background information for the paper,” Terra stated. Her husband, Joe, worked for the Cold Creek Gazette and I often wondered if it was just a natural consequence of his job that Terra seemed to know everything about everybody. It wasn’t like she was a gossip, but she always seemed to have the scoop on what was happening. On the other hand, she was very sociable, like Kim.
“Who was murdered? How?” I asked, still not completely convinced. I thought of the childhood game of telephone when the same sentence was repeated to a series of people, one after the other, and how different the meaning by the time it reached the last person.
“Oh, my god, I was there. I could have been murdered too!” Kim exclaimed, hands to her mouth. She clearly didn’t have any trouble believing what Terra said. Not knowing the details, I guessed it was a logical leap that she was in the same place and could have been affected.
“Joe didn’t say who, just that the scene was being treated as a murder scene.  He was assigned to get backfill for the story that would come out. He said he’d be over to talk to faculty and staff in a bit. We turned the news on in the office, but so far haven’t heard anything. They may not be saying yet. You know, maybe they haven’t notified next of kin or something,” Terra continued with a shrug. Her nonchalance was a stark contrast to Kim’s response. Ali hadn’t said anything, but shook her head. Like her name, Terra tended toward being down to earth and that gave some credibility to the idea of a murder.
“Kim, did you see anything this morning that looked suspicious?” I asked thinking back to her comments about the questions she’d been asked.  The questions and police presence were making sense if this was a murder.
“Sher, you know me on the treadmill. Headphones on and zoning out for five miles. I couldn’t even tell you who came and went while I was there. When the police interrupted us to ask questions, I think there were a few students and a man.  I think I’ve seen him over in the administration building a few times and at college functions. I don’t remember his name though,” she related, shaking her head slightly. “Maybe if I paid more attention I could have stopped it…,” she added as she clapped her hands to her face again.
“Don’t be ridiculous! Unless it happened in the cardio suite, there’s no way you could have done anything,” I assured her. “I’m sure you would have done something if you could have."


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Busy, busy, busy...

It has been a very busy week making minor changes (thank you to my beta readers Jan and Andra for their feedback!) and then formatting everything for printing in Createspace, finalizing the cover...  Oh, yeah, here it is!!!!   Isn't it great! (thank you CS!)

And then to format for the various different eBooks through Smashwords while waiting to get the proof from Createspace!  I can't wait to see it in print!  The current plan is to publish by October 15 for all media!  And of course, I've already started to think about the sequel and develop plot lines...  I'll keep you posted!

Product DetailsSo what to do while I wait for the proof to arrive?  Read, of course!  I'm trying to see if I can get onboard with some of the blog tours, but in the meantime, I will just post reviews here of whatever I happen to have read.

 Today's review is on Joanne Sydney Lessner's book Bad Publicity. This is the second in the Isobel Spice series. Isobel is a temp worker and with the help of the manager of the temp agency  (James) and an old friend from college (Katrina), she lands a cushy temp job at Dove & Flight assisting where ever she is needed. The position is great because she is an aspiring actress.  Problem is, she happens to serve coffee to an important client and key person in a potential merger and he is suddenly dead.  Second problem is that her friend Katrina wasn't in favor of the deal that client was selling and it looks like she may be the killer.  Isobel is likeable and her relationships have a good measure of tension, along with a touch of romance. Although Isobel works to eliminate possible guilty parties, the who-done-it isn't obvious.  Add in a bit of romance...  what more could you ask for?


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Excitement is...

Launching this blog... preparing to release a first book in a new series... all the fun things about the fall...

The blog "Christa Reads and Writes" is all about activities I enjoy and have always enjoyed - reading and writing. Most of the time, I suspect the blog will be featuring books and authors that I read.  I hope to be able to participate in some blog tours like Great Escapes... I tend to read mystery and romance, and a combination.  In past years, I also read a lot of fantasy, but not so much any more.  What genre show up here will just reflect what I read - mostly on kindle these days!  Some of my favorite authors (and hence ones you might see here) include Janet Evanovitch, Harold Coban, Maggie Sefton, Ellen Crosby, Christi Craig, Stephanie Bond, Lisa Gardner, Denise Swanson, Tori Scott, Diane Kelly, Barbara Freethy...   well, the list just goes on and on.  And the "to be read" pile keeps growing with so many new authors including Rosalee Richland (cozy mystery), LG Castillo (paranormal romance), and Bart Gilbertson (mystery) to name a few!  Which brings me to the writing part...

Yes, I am one of those new writers!  And writers are always told to write about what they know, so with a background of writing non-fiction in an academic setting, the setting and backdrop for the series is a small town, private college.  Whether small town or small business or small college, drama and mystery easily unfolds.  The exciting part is that the first in the series "Murder at Cold Creek College" is scheduled for release in October!  It is set in Virginia, a cozy mystery, with a strong female character at the lead. Here's a quick teaser:

Sheridan Hendley is a professor and psychologist, not a sleuth.  When her colleague at Cold Creek College, Adam Millberg, is murdered, she is charged with helping the Detective assigned to the case.  Immediately, her good friend becomes the prime suspect and Sheridan is motivated to help solve the case and prove Kim isn’t guilty. It also becomes apparent that Sheridan is attracted to the handsome Detective.  As Sheridan tries to connect all the people in Adam’s life, she finds out that many women have a motive for Adam’s murder. Slashed tires are the first indication that Sheridan’s involvement is obviously making someone nervous.

I will keep you posted on the release date!  In the meantime, if you have a book you'd like reviewed, or if you are interested in reviewing Murder at Cold Creek College (ARC), just leave a comment!